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Marriott CEO explains how he'll juggle 30 hotel brands after $13B Starwood buy

Marriott International chief Arne Sorenson said Friday his company probably doesn't need 30 hotel brands, but he has no plans to scrap any of them following the closing of Marriott's $13 billion purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

The brands "have been competing against each other, so they have been drawing distinctions as it is," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"We'll say, OK, what are the product and service attributes for each one of these brands, so the customer has some sense what the distinction is," he said.

The question of how Marriott will manage the vast portfolio has been top of mind for industry watchers. The issue has raised concerns that the Marriott and Starwood brands — some of which sought to attract the same type of traveler — will continue to compete against one another.

Marriott's stock was flat in premarket trading Friday. (Click here for the latest price.)

Sorenson acknowledged some element of competition would persist. Marriott cannot swiftly retire brands because many properties are owned by real estate developers who have invested in a particular brand, he added.

"Some locations are going to be better competitors than others, some products will be better than others, and generally hotels settle into a relative positioning that makes sense," he said.

Marriott's loyalty program stands to reap benefits from a larger footprint, he added.

"Loyalty program strength depends of course on knowing our customers, delivering value to the customers, but a lot of that value is about the range of choice, so if we can offer them a place to stay no matter where they're going physically, no matter what level of luxury they want … we make that program that much stronger," he said.

Marriott and Starwood's loyalty programs will remain separate for the time being, but members can link their accounts, Sorenson said.


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